|Native to||El Salvador, Honduras|
|Native speakers||1 (2012)|
Lencan is a small family of indigenous Mesoamerican languages.
There are two attested Lencan languages, both extinct (Campbell 1997:167).
- Salvadoran Lencan was spoken in Chilanga and Potó. Lencans had arrived in El Salvador about 2,000 years B.P. and founded the site of Quelepa.
- Honduran Lencan was spoken with minor dialect differences in Intibuca, Opatoro, Guajiquiro, Similatón (modern Cabañas), and Santa Elena.
The languages are not closely related; Swadesh (1967) estimated 3,000 years since separation. Arguedas Cortés (1987) reconstructs Proto-Lencan with 12 consonants (including ejectives) and 5 vowels.
Their external relationships are disputed. Inclusion within Macro-Chibchan is often proposed; Campbell (1987) reported that there was no solid evidence for such a connection, but Constenla (2005) proposed regular correspondence between Lencan, Misumalpan, and Chibchan. Another proposal links Lencan with the Xincan language family (Campbell 1997).
The Proto-Lencan homeland was most likely in central Honduras (Campbell 1997:167).
At the time of the Spanish conquest of Central America in the early 16th century, the Lenca language was spoken by the Lenca people in a region that incorporates northwestern and southwestern Honduras, and neighboring eastern El Salvador, east of the Lempa river. While the Lenca people continue to live in the same region today, Lyle Campbell reported in the 1970s that he found only 1 speaker of the language in Chilanga, El Salvador, and none in Honduras. Campbell also concluded that Salvadoran Lenca was a distinct language from Honduran Lenca.
The language is reportedly extinct, and was also spoken by the Lenca people of central Honduras. Due to persecution by the Honduran army in the 1980s and 1990s, who violently repressed them due to their fighting for a more equitable distribution of land and a fair agrarian reform, many chose not to speak it for a long time to avoid being easily identified by their persecutors.
Indigenous movements in both countries are attempting to revive the language, and recent press reports from Honduras indicate that elementary school textbooks in Salvadoran Lenca have been distributed to public schools in the region.
As of 2012, Mario Salvador Hernández of Guatajiagua is the last speaker of Lenca Potón, which differs from the version spoken in Chilanga, where the language has disappeared. Research in 2004 by the University of Central America recorded 380 words, five vowels and 16 consonants, alternation between “g” and “k”, with reduplication to create plurals from singular forms.
- Lenca reference at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
- "Beatriz Cortez ¿Dónde están los indígenas? La identidad nacional y la crisis de la modernidad en La guerra mortal de los sentidos de Roberto Castillo". Retrieved 2012-09-30.
- Liliana Fuentes Monroy (2012). "Buscan rescatar lengua potón". La Prensa. Retrieved 2012-09-30.
- Campbell, Lyle. 1976. "The Last Lenca". International Journal of American Linguistics 42(1): 73-78.
- ————. 1997. American Indian Languages: The Historical Linguistics of Native America. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Campbell, Lyle, Anne Chapman, and Karen Dakin. 1978. "Honduran Lenca". International Journal of American Linguistics 44(4): 330-332.
- Constenla Umaña, A. (1981). Comparative Chibchan Phonology. (Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia).
- Constenla Umaña, Adolfo. (1991). Las lenguas del Área Intermedia: Introducción a su estudio areal. Editorial de la Universidad de Costa Rica, San José.
- Constenla Umaña, Adolfo. (1995). Sobre el estudio diacrónico de las lenguas chibchenses y su contribución al conocimiento del pasado de sus hablantes. Boletín del Museo del Oro 38-39: 13-56.
- Fabre, Alain. 2005. Diccionario etnolingüístico y guía bibliográfica de los pueblos indígenas sudamericanos: LENCA. 
- Greenberg, Joseph. 1987. Language In The Americas. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
- Hemp, Eric. 1976. "On Earlier Lenca Vowels". International Journal of American Linguistics 42(1): 78-79.
- Lehman, Walter. 1920. Zentral-Amerika. see pp. 700–719 (Salvadoran Lenca) and pp. 668–692 (Honduran Lenca).
- Roque, Consuelo; Manuel Antonio Ramírez Suárez (2004). Cultura lenca de Guatajiagua. Universidad de El Salvador. ISBN 978-99923-27-20-3. Retrieved 30 September 2012.